Can Martinez take Everton where Moyes couldn't?

Everton’s incoming manager Roberto Martinez hopes he can take the club where David Moyes couldn’t – securing access to Champions League football.

The Spanish boss formerly of Wigan has signed a four-year contract to bring him to Goodison Park where he replaces long-serving boss David Moyes who has been appointed as Sir Alex Ferguson’s replacement at Manchester United.

“I feel lucky to be able to carry on David Moyes' work,” stated Martinez upon his unveiling this week.

Moyes had been the Premier League’s third longest-serving manager behind only Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger with his 11 years at Goodison Park. In that time Everton gained access to the Champions League just once in the 2005/06 season.

They lost twice against Villarreal, 2-1 the scoreline to the Spaniards in both legs of their third round tie, failing to make the group stages of the Champions League, despite finishing 4th ahead of Liverpool.

That was the best finish Moyes ever achieved in the Premier League and Martinez will be looking to improve on the record of his predecessor at Goodison.

But the competition for Champions League football is fierce, more so now than ever before with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea entering the equation in the last decade, joining Manchester United and Arsenal who have enjoyed a stronghold over the top four in that same period.

Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005, despite finishing behind their Merseyside rivals and entering the qualification stages in the first round. They’ll be looking to improve on their finish last term of 7th in the league, behind Everton in 6th.

Meanwhile Tottenham narrowly missed out once again this time around. They finished 5th behind North London rivals Arsenal who snatched a qualification place on the final game last month.

All in all, Martinez is going to have his work cut out for him to challenge those six clubs for a spot. In the top four next season. It’s not beyond him, however. I believe Everton will emerge a much stronger outfit over the next few years with him at the helm.

Moyes was obviously a great manager and did a fantastic job over his tenure at Goodison but I feel that Martinez can take them to the next level – they need to break that ceiling that has contained them for so many years. If they truly want to challenge for the Champions League spots, they are going to have to be more ambitious and expansive not only in the transfer market but also in their style of play.

Martinez’ philosophy is not altogether dissimilar to that of Arsene Wenger’s at Arsenal – in fact earlier on in his career with Wigan, Martinez cited Wenger as his role-model of sorts.

Martinez will continue Moyes’ policy of bringing in bargain buys, developing them to achieve a higher resale value.

That’s the kind of strategy he’ll have to continue within the club’s limited resources. But what he can do better is make Everton a more attacking and offensive team in terms of their system and style – he’ll infuse a continental flair into the team that Moyes has built.

Can he do it? I think it may be beyond him and them for next season but I do expect in the course of the next four years Everton will challenge for the top four and I wouldn’t put it past Martinez to take the club beyond Liverpool and Tottenham.

It’s hard to see the likes of United, City and the Blues falling off their perch and Arsenal have such a strong record of top four placing under Wenger, it’s hard to see where Martinez and his Everton are going to catch a break.

image: © illarterate

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